Your Pilates Physio Review

This post is in collaboration with Your Pilates Physio.

Your Pilates Physio Review - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness blog

Training to run a race like The Speed Project takes a lot more than running. If you want to run strong for the best part of three days you need to be strong. Strength training, yoga and Pilates have all played a part in my training programme, helping me build strength, recover and improve my mobility. Pilates has also been great for managing some of the little weak points that have become apparent as the race has got closer, areas like my lower back which can be weak and buckles during longer runs, throwing my form way off and killing my performance.

When my lower back starts to feel strain it’s a sign (at least for me) that I need to work on my core, so that my muscles know to work harder to help me stay nice and upright. Although weight training and yoga help with this to some extent, the think that I’ve always found works really well for me is Pilates. Those simple (yet killer) exercises really help me to hold myself better, and if I’m doing then my lower back isn’t going to give way quite a quickly. Saying that, although I work for one of the best Pilates companies in London, I don’t actually get to many Pilates classes. Heartcore’s dynamic Pilates classes as often fully booked, or I’m too busy to make it to the studio when I’m not actually working myself, which is why I was thrilled to work with Your Pilates Physio for a review - I could fit Pilates in, at home around my schedule.

Your Pilates Physio Review - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

Your Pilates Physio differs from the Pilates I practice at the studio. First off it is mat based (because most people don’t have a reformer bed at home!), and secondly it offers Clinical Pilates which is focused on helping people overcome physical injuries and pain conditions (whereas a studio like Heartcore is more focused on Pilates for fitness).

Founder, and experienced physio, Lyndsay Hirst, has a passion for treating musculoskeletal problems and she found through her work that Pilates exercises were an amazing way to help address and prevent many of the issues her patients were experiencing. Its something more and more physios seem to be in tune with, I’m pretty sure at least once a shift someone comes into the studio saying their physiotherapist has sent them as Pilates would help X, Y or Z problem. However, Pilates isn’t always very accessible - there aren’t loads of good studios, classes can be expensive and people are time poor, so Lydnsay launched Your Pilates Physio, a platform that allows you to access high quality PIlates instruction wherever they are.

Your Pilates Physio Review - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

I chose to focus my Pilates workouts on my lower back (Lyndsay has a workout for most ailments) and because the website is so easy to use I could find the workouts I needed, for the length of time time I needed and at the level I needed simply and quickly. Each video moves at a really manageable pace, so it’s easy to follow each exercise either on screen or by listening to Lyndsay speak. There’s no banging music or distracting backgrounds, just good, clear instruction, which is exactly what you need when you’re practicing at home, alone.

Practicing Pilates at home a couple of times a week has made a big difference to my lower back. I feel a lot stronger and like I’m holding myself much better, and hopefully that’ll last through the 340 miles between LA and Vegas!

*I was given a month’s free subscription to Your Pilates Physio in exchange for review but all opinions are my own.

The Speed Project; Risks and Research

It’s been a little while since I shared an update on my training for The Speed Project, life has been so full on lately between uni assignments, training and getting all the logistics for the race sorted and blogging fell right down my list of priorities.

It is crazy how close we are to stepping out on this massive adventure through the desert. It feels like just yesterday I was chatting to Rosh about perhaps maybe joining her team for The Speed Project and now we’re counting down the days until we fly to LA. I can’t quite believe it’s happening.

I don’t feel any fear about what’s coming. I thought so hard about taking on this challenge and have always been utterly realistic about the risks and realities involved. Not least because I had to write a risk assessment for my university setting everything out in detail!

One of the first things I did once I’d made up my mind to run across Death Valley was to tell my phd supervisor Rich. For someone who’s research is all about ultra running the opportunity to go out and experience a race is just too good to turn down, it’s an opportunity to get closer to understanding the experiences of women in the sport and bring that insight in my research. For a professional geek that is about as exciting as it gets, and thankfully Rich was onboard (and in fact suggested it’s make good field work before I even had a chance to say anything!) and fully supported turning this exploit into research.

The Speed Project; Risks - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

The thing is though carrying out field work isn’t quite as simple as just going out and doing it. You need to get ethical approval, a process that’s all about making sure you don’t do any harm, mostly to other people but also to yourself. It’s a big deal and something universities take really seriously, and if you do research that involves people in situations where they might be vulnerable (like when they’re running across the desert and haven’t slept in awhile) then they really up the ante. I completed pages and pages of forms where I carefully set out what I wanted to achieve from my research and how I would safeguard everyone involved, including me, because although I reckon this is a fun weekend away my university has other ideas. You see they have a responsibility to me as one of their students, and if things go wrong while I’m in the field then they have a responsibility to show that everything was done to protect me as far as practically possible. Which means I had to do a pretty involved risk assessment.

It was an intense experience, and the first time I met with my departmental ethics officer the intake of breath was audible. What I was proposing was like nothing anyone in my department had done before (it’s not exactly common for management academics to want to go for really long runs in the name of research!) and there were understandably a few concerns. Injury, dehydration, snakes, road traffic collisions were starters for 10 in the list of things that could happen and my job was to set out how I planned to mitigate each risk so that the university could feel a little more confident I wouldn’t kill myself. It was a painstaking process, but it also means I am brutally aware of what I’m taking on and that I am confident I’ve done as much as I can to look after myself and my team in the field.

The Speed Project; Risks - A Pretty Place to Play, London Running and Fitness Blog

We have an awesome crew who are supporting us through this thing and will be playing a major role when it comes to our safety. Driving the RV alongside us when we need to run on busy sections of road, running with us through shady neighbourhoods, making sure we’ve eaten and are staying hydrated, generally having our backs.

Tech will also play a big role. Strava Summit will help us keep tabs on each other when we’re running stretches alone. Files uploaded to our watches will keep us on track along a route none of us know and walkie talkies will keep us connected when we’re all in different places.

Although there are so many unknowns in a race like this, and that’s part of the appeal, knowledge is power. We’re working with Precision Hydration to work out our exact hydration needs and reduce the risk of dehydration. Likewise we know what nutrition works for each of us, we have an amazing massage therapist called Michael to keep our muscles in check and we’re learning more about how each of us reacts in stressful situations so we can manage them better. This doesn’t eliminate risk, but it does mean that we can keep more of a grip on the things that are within our control.

One of the most important elements of risk management is our training. I am crazy proud of how hard the whole team has worked to get ready for this event. Everyone has trained in their own way, but we’ve all been through the hard yards. We’ve had good runs and bad runs, injuries, sickness, days when things have been amazing and others where we’ve doubted everything. We are all stronger than we’ve ever been, individually and as a team, and that shows in our shared philosophy that our priority right now is to get to the race in one piece.

There’s an amazing camaraderie that’s developed between us over the last few months and the bonds we’ve built as a team have helped us all develop the mental strength we need to go into this challenge. We all know this isn’t going to be easy. We know that there’s going to be times when we each find things really hard, and we’re learning how to support each other through those tricky moments. I know this team have my back, and i’ve got theirs.

*images: Anna Rachel Photography

Training for the Speed Project - week seven

In collaboration with 361 Europe.

Shit is getting real. In less than six weeks time we’ll be in LA getting ourselves sorted before running out into the desert. Just typing that gives me feelings. My heart swells whenever I think about being out on the road, running towards Las Vegas on what I can only begin to describe as an epic journey. Yes it will be really hard. No I probably won’t sleep much, and it will push me to my physical and emotional limits, but that’s when the magic happens and you go beyond your expectations.

Training for the Speed Project week seven - A Pretty Place to Play, London running and fitness blog

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot is the idea of perfect training. So often I see people expressing guilt at a missed session, imperfect fuelling, not hitting a particular pace, or any number of other perceived flaws. When we set out on a training journey we start with a fresh plan. We think long and hard about how best to train for an event. We program workouts that we think will make us stronger. We give up parts of our lives to focus on the goal and the journey towards it. The emotional investment is huge, so when we fail to meet our perception of perfection, whether it’s a missed session or a day when frankly you felt like shit, we can be quick to beat ourselves up and to doubt our worth.

My training is far (FAR) from perfect. Last week I spent a whole day in bed because I’d been so crap at fuelling and was basically exhausted, and that’s before we mention the long run that I cut short (before getting lost and having to get an Uber). I could tell you so many stories about times I’ve ‘messed up’ my training, and I used to feel really bad about it. I worried that a failure in training meant I’d fail in my race, and that by association I was a failure. That is until I reframed my thinking. I took my perceived failures and turned them into learning experiences. I was crap at fuelling, ok well what do I need to fuel better? Some quick maths and I worked out my calorie shortfall and chatted to Mike (who looks after all the food prep in our house) about how I could make sure I ate enough moving forward. Since then I’ve had noticeably more energy and in turn that’s helping me become a stronger runner. Likewise, I cut my run short because I could feel my legs were really tight. Reflecting on everything I know about good form this tells me that I need to work a bit more on by glutes and lower back so that I can hold good form for longer and run strong. If I didn’t have these ‘failures’ in training then I might not have spotted these weaknesses, and they might have held me back on the road.

Training is your practice run. It’s an opportunity to learn what your weaknesses are and then to address them. You shouldn’t expect your training to be perfect, in fact I reckon you should hope that it isn’t. You need those tough miles, those days where you’ve really not had enough to eat or that moment where you disappoint yourself to learn and develop as a runner. Training is about more than getting miles in your legs, it’s about learning about yourself.

Training for the Speed Project week seven - A Pretty Place to Play, London running and fitness blog

With all that in mind, here’s what I got up to last week:

Monday - 50 minute restorative yoga class at Chroma Yoga

Tuesday - 15 minutes easy, 12 x 30s hard efforts on/2 minutes off, 15 minutes easy on a treadmill

Wednesday - got 20 minutes into a run before sacking it in. I was exhausted and my legs just didn’t want to move.

Thursday - skipped my run, but did make it to a yin yoga class

Friday - REST DAY

Saturday - SUCH A GOOD RUN DAY - 3 fast miles in lieu of Park Run (I was at work), and then 30 minutes recovery with Mike.

Sunday - 8.5 miles where I got lost, got sore and ended up getting an Uber. My legs were super heavy, but I felt pretty excellent in myself.

A truly imperfect week, but a week that taught me a hell of a lot. Not least that I need to eat a lot more.

Are you curious about how I’m training for the Speed Project? Is there anything you’d like to know? Let me know in the comments and I will see what I can do! In the meantime, you can read all my posts about this adventure here.

* images: Anna Rachel Photography

** my shoes were a gift from 361 Europe, who I am ambassador for.